Soros Speak, You Listen

Posted by: on Oct 31, 2004 | No Comments

Link. Even-tempered and sound.
You should read the whole thing, but if you’re too lazy… some excerpts (emphasis mine):

An open society such as ours is based on the recognition that our understanding of reality is inherently imperfect. Nobody is in possession of the ultimate truth. As the philosopher Karl Popper has shown, the ultimate truth is not attainable even in science. All theories are subject to testing and the process of replacing old theories with better ones never ends.
Faith plays an important role in an open society. Exactly because our understanding is imperfect, we cannot base our decisions on knowledge alone. We need to rely on beliefs, religious or otherwise, to help us make decisions. But we must remain open to the possibility that we may be wrong so that we can correct our mistakes. Otherwise, we are bound to be wrong.
[…]
The war on terror is an abstraction. But the terrorists are real people and they are not all alike. Most of the people attacking our soldiers in Iraq originally had nothing to do with al Qaeda. They have been generated by the policies of the Bush administration. We have been spared a terrorist attack at home but it is quite a stretch to attribute that to the invasion of Iraq. The insurrection in Iraq, however, is a somber reality and it doesn’t make us safer at home. Our security, far from improving as President Bush claims, is deteriorating.
Bush’s war in Iraq has done untold damage to the United States. It has impaired our military power and undermined the morale of our armed forces. Our troops were trained to project overwhelming power. They were not trained for occupation duties. Having to fight an insurgency saps their morale. After Iraq, it has become more difficult to recruit people for the armed forces and we may have to resort to conscription.
Before the invasion of Iraq, we could project overwhelming power in any part of the world. We cannot do so any more because we are bogged down in Iraq. Iran and North Korea are moving ahead with their nuclear programs at full speed and our hand in dealing with them has been greatly weakened.
There are many other policies for which the Bush administration can be criticized but none are as important as Iraq. Iraq is the proof that we cannot put our faith in the President.
[…]
I have been crisscrossing the country for the last three weeks arguing against the reelection of President Bush. On my travels I have heard many doubts about John Kerry. Why can’t he project the same certainty as President Bush? Admittedly, he won the debates, but does that qualify him to be our Commander in Chief? Will he be as single- minded in pursuing the war on terror as George W. Bush?
Let me address these concerns. John Kerry has presented a cogent and coherent case but the Bush campaign managed to define him before he could define himself. They made fun of his explanation of the various votes he cast on the $87 billion appropriation for Iraq, although it made perfect sense. He was practically not heard, except in snippets, until the debates.
But the trouble goes deeper. The war on terror as defined by President Bush is a one-dimensional presentation of reality. We cannot fight terrorism by military means alone. We can use military force only when we have a known target; but it is the habit of terrorists to keep their whereabouts hidden. To track them down we need the support of the populations amongst whom they hide. Offense is not necessarily the best defense if it offends those whose allegiance we need.
John Kerry is aware of this other dimension. That is why he cannot be as single-minded as George W. Bush. He is nuanced because reality is complicated. This has been turned into a character flaw by the Bush campaign. Yet, that is exactly the character we need in our commander in chief. John Kerry is prepared to defend the country as he showed in Viet Nam; but he has learned first hand the devastation that war can bring and will use military force only as a last resort.
By contrast George W. Bush revels in being a war president. His campaign is shamelessly exploiting the fears generated by 9/11. Vice President Cheney is conjuring mushroom clouds into our cities. But fear is a bad counselor; we must resist it wherever it comes from. President Roosevelt had the right idea when he said, “We have nothing to fear but Fear itself.” If we re-elect President Bush the war on terror will never end. The terrorists are invisible, therefore they can never disappear. It is our civil liberties that may disappear instead.
An open society is always in danger. It must constantly reaffirm its principles in order to survive. We are being sorely tested, first by 9/11 and then by President Bush’s response. To pass the test we must face reality instead of finding solace in false certainties. This election transcends party loyalties. Our future as an open society depends on resisting the Siren’s song.

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